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McKinstry: Alfonse D'Amato tells the story of long-shot Republican candidates

D'Amato with Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliatakos

D'Amato with Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliatakos Credit: Dan Janison

TAMPA -- New York's delegation at the Republican Nation Convention continued its lovefest for 1980 when it tapped another winner from that year to tell his story: Alfonse D'Amato.

"In 1980, they said it couldn't be done," D'Amato said today in Clearwater, later adding that Ronald Reagan was well behind in the polls in his come-from-behind win over President Jimmy Carter.
"I was Al Who?"
The one-time long-shot from Hempstead knocked off Sen. Jacob Javitz in a Republican primary that year and then served in the Senate until 1999 when he lost to Chuck Schumer, now the senior senator from New York.
Like now, the economy was pretty bad. There are parrallels.
And with a virtual dead-heat in national polls between President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney,it's not hard for these delegates to get jazzed up about the race.
But when New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox likened D'Amato to another long-shot Republican -- Wendy Long, who is running against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) -- he didn't mention that D'Amato won under unique circumstances. He won with a plurality in a three person race: Javits split the Democratic vote with Elizabeth Holtzman, giving D'Amato a slight edge.
It's hard to imagine Long pulling out a win this year against Gillibrand, who holds a commanding lead and has a lot of cash.
Its more likely that voters will be saying, "Wendy Who?"

Pictured above: Sen. Alfonse at a breakfast of the New York delegation to the GOP convention. (Aug. 28, 2012)